Data Dealer: Just a Fun Game About Mining Personal Information

May 13, 2013 | Andy Cush

Ever wish you could see the other side in the massive dance of privacy violations, data collection, and all-around snooping that characterizes our life online today? Data Dealer, a new free online game, hopes to let you do just that. You play as an aspiring data mogul, mining people’s personal information through variety of legitimate and illegitimate sources, then selling it to corporations for profit.

Gameplay consists of investing in your sources–like personality tests, dating services, and shady employees at the hospital, then choosing which big data buyers you’d like to make a deal with. As you progress, more sources and buyers become available to you (I just unlocked “Bernie Maddog,” who looks a lot like this guy), and your web of available information grows. It’s kind of like Roller Coaster Tycoon, except instead of treating people to exciting thrill rides, you’re robbing them of every last bit of privacy they have.

If it sounds quotidian, know that I thought the same thing until I started playing, and now I’ve been checking back to milk my sources every few minutes or so. I’ve probably opened the game 10 times while writing this post alone. Okay, I’ll be right back, I swear.